September 27, 2015

Clinging to the Lord

It is a blessed Sunday, and I am at home resting. Well, I am working on my computer and trying to rest as much as possible before this good day ends. The problem is that I have too much work to do -- yes -- I have school work (Regent) and teaching work (GCU/ACU) that must be completed by the end of this day. I am bounded by constraint, and there is nothing I can do about it. I must complete my task list, and it must be completed today.

Thus, my heart is struggling with the fact that what I need most today is REST. I need rest from the constant strain that is pulling me down. I need rest from the stress of an never-ending to-do list, and I need to relax, just relax, and have down time, free time, to laugh, to enjoy, and to not be pressed so hard into doing things I don't want to do. I need His relief, the release that comes from the full surrender to the Lord, and I need to let go of everything knowing full well that He will do it, He will see to every task, every item, and every need. I have let go of all the "extras" in my life, and all that is left is my teaching (work) and my doctoral study (work) and of these two things, neither can be reduced or relaxed until the end of the semester comes (December 11). I am counting the days for sure, but until then, I must press on, I must carry the heavy burden, and I must do the work that has been assigned to me to do. Selah!

My soul and my body, thus, cling the Lord today. Joshua 23:8-10 NIV says,

"But you are to cling to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day. For the LORD has driven out great and strong nations from before you; and as for you, no man has stood before you to this day. One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you." 

In this passage, Joshua is reminding the Israelites to remain steadfast and to keep on looking to and relying upon God for their sufficiency, their deliverance from their enemies, and for their rest (in the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). The key focus in these verses is to rest upon the One who has promised, who is faithful, and who is with them in battle.

Similarly, the Psalmist says in Psalm 63:6-8 NIV,

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.

There is something about this word -- to cling -- that the Old Testament writers understood. I don't think we see "clinging" as a positive thing these days. In fact, I would say that in almost all cases, clinging to something or someone is viewed as "needy or unnecessary." But, the word itself simply means "to hold onto something or someone very tightly, to stay very close to someone for emotional support, protection, etc., and to stick to something or someone" (Merriam-Webster).

Emotional support is something we all need. As humans, we need the emotional support of others whether that is in verbal affirmation or physical stick-to-it-ness. I was just thinking about this idea of emotional support this week. It has been three weeks since the young man in my church took his own life. I was thinking how everyone was grieving over the loss of his life during that first awful week. As the week's have passed, I have not seen any news, any word, telling me how the family is doing. It seems that everyone who grieved with them moved on. The family, I am sure, is still wounded by the loss of their child, the grandparents are still trying to understand the senselessness of the act, and the extended family is missing the warmth of this young mans presence in their daily life. Yet, the friends, the church, and others have moved on. The emotional support they offered to the family has been withdrawn and placed elsewhere. Yet, it is this emotional support that we all need, and at times, we cannot live without.

Cling to the Lord Always

Joshua was telling the army -- cling to God -- rely on Him for your emotional support. Do not leave God, but remain close to Him, steadfast in your hold. I think this is what David was saying as well when he said in Psalm 63: 1, "You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." We need God, we need relationship with Him and with others. Yet, when we are stressed, strained, and starting to come apart at the seems, we hunker down, and try to hold on to whatever is nearest to us. We cling to people, to positions, and to power -- only to find that our strength fails -- and the very things we are attempting to hold on to, falls away. Yet the Lord remains. He is steadfast, immoveable, and resolute in His position of power and authority. He is sovereign Lord, and as majesty, He is not moving from His rightful place on the throne of Heaven. He is God, and there is nothing that can move Him. Therefore, when the days seem long and unending, when the to-do's seem impossible, we are reminded in Scripture to cling to our God, to look to Him for our emotional support and our physical well-being. It is only through Him that we can overcome whatever challenges we may face. 

Today, as I write this blog post, I am sitting at my computer feeling the burning pain in my back, stretching to relieve the ache in my shoulders and thinking to myself, Lord I cannot do it, I just cannot do it. I am burnt out, I am physically beat, and I am spiritually drained. I have nothing left to give. I hear His voice say to me "I know the feeling. I am here, I am with you." I recall the verse from Matthew 28:20 where Jesus says, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." And then I think about this verse from Revelation 22:12 where the Lord says, "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done." Yes, He is coming soon, and His reward is everlasting life. I am patiently waiting for His return, knowing that I must remain steadfast, stalwart, and steady throughout the trials and circumstances of this life.

I am ready, Lord, I am ready, but until you come, I will march on. I will "keep on, keeping on" until you say "Well done, my good and faithful servant." Selah!

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